Schmedding v. Schmedding

Decision Date21 February 1966
Citation240 Cal.App.2d 312,49 Cal.Rptr. 523
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesFrank William SCHEMDDING, as Administrator of the Estate of Hilda B. Kreis, also known as Hilda Elizabeth Kreis, Deceased, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. Herman SCHMEDDING, Defendant and Respondent, John G. Kreis and Minnie Heenan, Intervenors. Civ. 7972.

Marsh & Graves, El Cajon, for plaintiff and appellant.

Brooks Crabtree, Carlisle C. Lewis, Jr., and William G. Bailey, San Diego, for defendant and respondent.

FINLEY, * Justice.

This appeal is by the plaintiff, as administrator of his sister Hilda's estate, from the judgment in a non-jury hearing in favor of defendant, also a brother of the deceased. The intervenors are respectively a brother and sister of Hilda's deceased husband.

The judgment followed defendant's motion for judgment under the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure, section 631.8. The issue is ownership of funds held in joint tenancy by defendant and his sister, the deceased, during her lifetime.

On November 5, 1962, Hilda B. Kreis, hereinafter referred to as 'Hilda', changed a savings account then standing in her sole name into a joint tenancy account between herself and her brother, Herman Schmedding, respondent herein. At the time there was in the account some $21,815.49. On January 25, 1963, respondent withdrew from this savings account the sum of $3,499.11 which he deposited in a checking account opened in the name of himself, his wife and Hilda as joint tenants. This checking account was used mainly to pay Hilda's bills and was closed approximately three months before Hilda's death. The balance of $18,316.38 remained in the joint savings account between Hilda and respondent and was so held at the time of Hilda's death, at the age of 64. Determination of the ownership of this deposit is the purpose of this action.

It appears that from time to time Hilda lived with various members of her family. She lived for a time with her brother, Albert, in Coventry, Connecticut. She then came to California and moved into the home of her brother Frank. Following a heart attack in September 1962, as a result of which she was hospitalized for two weeks, she returned to Frank's home for approximately two weeks. On November 1, 1962, she moved to the home of her brother, Herman, respondent here, where she remained until she died intestate and without issue on December 29, 1963.

The only question presented is ownership of the $18,316.38. Appellant contends that this determination must rest upon two points:

1. Whether there was a confidential relationship existing between the decedent and respondent.

2. The nature of the savings account involved as joint tenancy or otherwise.

The trial court took the position, as does respondent, that no finding on the question of confidential relationship was necessary. In the words of the trial judge:

'All I have to find is there was no over-reaching of her at any time by Herman, so it wouldn't make any difference whether there was a confidential relationship or not, and she knew what she was doing at all times.'

With this position of the trial court and also respondent we agree. The existence of a confidential relationship would be material only if there had been before the court some reasonable degree of proof that respondent had violated a duty to Hilda existing apart from any such confidential relationship. Had such violation been established the question of whether there existed a confidential or fiduciary relationship would then have become material in proving an index to the degree of permissible transgression, for it is elementary that a confidential relationship demands a higher degree of fides than that commonly existing between those dealing with each other at arm's length.

Our review of the proof discloses no reason to differ with the trial court in its finding that:

'* * * Defendant HERMAN SCHMEDDING exercised no undue influence, persuasion, overreaching or any other type of control whatsoever over HILDA B. KREIS, * * * prior to or on November 5, 1962, when she established the above-mentioned joint tenancy savings account with right of survivorship between herself and Defendant HERMAN SCHMEDDING or thereafter up to the date of her death.'

Respondent properly calls attention to the fact that an appellate court must accept the determination of fact made in the trial court if there is any substantial evidence, contradicted or uncontradicted, to support the findings made. (Crawford v. Southern Pacific Co., 3 Cal.2d 427, 45 P.2d 183; Estate of Bristol, 23 Cal.2d 221, 143 P.2d 689.

The above finding by the trial court, which the record adequately supports and with which we do not differ, obviates any obligation on the part of the trial court to find upon the suggested question of 'confidential relationship'.

The question of the interest of a surviving joint tenant in the property jointly held is discussed in the briefs at some length. Appellant calls attention to the conclusive presumption of ownership by the survivor upon the death of one joint tenant contained in former Section 15a of the California Bank Act, which presumption was not carried over when that section was finally re-enacted into Financial Code, section 852. He contends this fact implies that there is now no presumption that title passes to the surviving joint tenant upon death.

Respondent concedes that the conclusive presumption of Section 15a of the California Bank Act was not carried over into Financial Code, section 852, but he points to the cases of Paterson v. Comastri, 39 Cal.2d 66, 244 P.2d 902 and Medeiros v. Cotta, 134 Cal.App.2d 452, 286 P.2d 546 as authority for his contention that Section 15a of the California Bank Act was copied from the New York Bank Act and that in both states the courts have construed the act to...

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6 cases
  • People v. Goree
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • February 21, 1966
  • Marriage of Stitt, In re
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • September 29, 1983
    ...support in the evidence. (In re Marriage of Mix (1975) 14 Cal.3d 604, 612, 122 Cal.Rptr. 79, 536 P.2d 479; Schmedding v. Schmedding (1966) 240 Cal.App.2d 312, 316, 49 Cal.Rptr. 523.) In transferring the property to wife, the trial court found husband relied on wife's representations that th......
  • De Angeles v. Roos Bros., Inc.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • August 23, 1966
    ...prejudicial error of law or violence to reason, it is the duty of an appellate court to upheld the trial court (Schmedding v. Schmedding, 240 A.C.A. 324, 327, 49 Cal.Rptr. 523; Crawford v. Southern Pacific Co., 3 Cal.2d 427, 45 P.2d The uncontroverted evidence indicates that Roos-Atkins ope......
  • De Angeles v. Roos Bros., Inc.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • May 27, 1966
    ...prejudicial error of law or violence to reason, it is the duty of an appellate court to uphold the trial court (Schmedding v. Schmedding, 240 A.C.A. 324, 327, 49 Cal.Rptr. 523; Crawford v. Southern Pacific Co., 3 Cal.2d 427, 45 P.2d The uncontroverted evidence indicates that Roos-Atkins ope......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Contested Nonprobate Transfers: When the Estate Plan Trumps
    • United States
    • California Lawyers Association California Trusts & Estates Quarterly (CLA) No. 26-3, March 2020
    • Invalid date
    ...Law Revision Com. com., McGovern & Hirsch, Ann. Prob. Code (2020) foll. section 5302, p. 530 (citing Schmedding v. Schmedding (1966) 240 Cal.App.2d 312, 315-316 (presumption rebuttable); Evid. Code, section 115 (burden of proof is ordinarily preponderance of the evidence); Evid. Code, secti......

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